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It was the worst possible start to the decade for the Rooks as they were well beaten by a Horsham side looking to put pressure on the top two in the Isthmian Premier League, reports Stuart Fuller.
After an 18 day rest since beating Merstham, Ross Standen and Tony Coade fielded an almost unchanged side with the injured Michael Dome-Bemwin replaced by Charlie Coppola. One notable name on the bench was Ronnie Conlon, making his first return to the squad since his knee injury in November 2018.
The opening exchanges were relatively even with both sides trying to work the ball down the flanks. In the 10th minute the home side had the first real chance of the game when a free-kick on the edge of the both went through the Lewes wall but Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke got down well to save. However, just two minutes later he was picking the ball out of the net for the first time this year. A long free-kick from the Lewes left was headed back across the goal and the unmarked Joe Shelley stooped low to head the ball into the corner of the net.
The goal spurred the Rooks into action and they took the game to Horsham, with some good passages of play around the penalty area. In the 20th minute the Rooks had the ball in the net after a deep Coppola cross was headed in the air by Golding and the ball bounced over the line but the linesman flagged for an infringement against Medlock on the Horsham keeper, despite it appearing that the ball had already crossed the line.
Horsham countered after the scare and a strong strike from distance was beaten out by Nathan whilst an effort from Dawson shaved the post. At the other end Alex Malins just failed to get on the end of a Redwood cross whilst a goal-bound James Hammond effort from distance struck Kayne Diedrick-Roberts.
It was therefore slightly against the run of play when Horsham doubled their lead although their can be no denying the quality of the goal. A strong run and cross down the Lewes left was met perfectly by Rob O'Toole with a bicycle kick that gave Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke absolutely no chance.
The second half started in a similar vein to the first, with the Rooks still trying to work an opening but Horsham never really troubled at the back. There was a shout for a penalty in the 50th minute when Alex Malins appeared to be pole-axed as a corner was delivered but the officials didn't see anything. Two minutes later and another deep corner from the Lewes left was headed home by the unmarked Brivo.
The goal killed off any hope the Rooks had, with the biggest cheer of the afternoon coming when Ronnie Conlon came on to replace Stefan Ilic in the 73rd minute.
Whilst the Rooks tried to find a consolation goal, the home side ran down the clock, controlling the ball and enjoying a perfect start to the New Year.
The Rooks are in Premier League action again on Saturday when they head to Haringey Borough's Coles Park for a 3pm kick-off.
Horsham: Bentley, Metcalf, Sparks, Brivo (Harding - 68 mins), Shelley, Miles, O'Toole (Pamment -76 mins), Dawson, Smith (Cundle- 62 mins), Harris, Roberts
Subs not used: Dyett, Punter
Lewes: Stroomberg-Clarke, Day, Redwood, Coppola (Mongoy - 57 mins), Chappell, Malins (Dawson- 62 mins), Golding, Hammond, Medlock, Diedrick-Roberts, Ilic (Conlon -73 mins)
Subs not used: Yeboah, Freeman